The History & Signature Designs of Buccellati Jewelry

Buccellati Jewelry Hero

Buccellati, the family-owned Italian jewelry house, has long been synonymous with tradition, creativity and skill. In this article, we’ll delve into the history of the prestigious house and their signature styles, and we’ll guide you through the current market for Buccellati jewelry at auction.

The History of Buccellati Jewelry

Although officially established in the early part of the 20th Century, the Buccellati’s connection with jewelry goes as far back as the mid-eighteenth century, when Contardo Buccellati worked as a goldsmith in Milan. However, it wasn’t until 1910 that the family revived this tradition with founder Mario Buccellati (1891-1965) taking on an apprenticeship at the prestigious Beltrami & Beltrami in Milan. In 1919, Buccellati took the reins of the jewelry house, changing its name to the eponymous title before opening their first flagship store near La Scale opera House in Milan. Before long, the house gained cult status with a loyal international clientele, including poet Gabriele D’Annunzio, who dubbed Mario, “The Prince of Goldsmiths’.

Since childhood, Mario had been fascinated with the study of metals and gemstones and their use within the Renaissance Period, which still plays a part in the house’s distinct style today. His legacy continued when four of his sons joined the family business and subsequently opened stores in Rome in 1925 and Florence in 1929. Decades later, in 1951, Buccellati opened another store on New York’s Fifth Avenue, making them the first Italian jeweler to inhabit this prestigious location.

Following the passing of Mario in 1966, his sons Gianmaria and Luca took the reigns of the business, overseeing both the workshops and design in Italy. Gianmaria and Luca also embarked on further expansion in the US and globally throughout the 1970s, opening new stores in Hong Kong, Japan, Monte Carlo and Paris’ Place Vendôme. Gianmaria’s son, Andrea Buccellati, now heads the family business alongside his daughter Lucretzia. To this day, Buccellati retains the traditions of artisanship originally established by Mario, while also continuing to expand the international presence of the jewelry house. 

The Centennial Anniversary of Buccellati

2019 marked the centennial anniversary of Buccellati, and to celebrate, the family hand selected 200 pieces from their archives to form the ‘Vintage Collection’. The celebration took place at Sotheby’s Paris in October 2019 and featured both an auction and separate exhibition, showcasing 16 pieces that captured the rich heritage of the jewelry house, including pieces made specifically for Gabriele D’Annunzio. 


Buccellati Designs and Techniques

The Buccellati style is instantly recognizable for its unique blend of elements inspired by Italy’s rich history, spanning the Roman Empire to the Renaissance. Closely guarded, most pieces are still designed by family members, and although the brand is steeped in tradition, Buccellati incorporates contemporary elements that satisfy today’s jewelry aficionados.

Their approach to craftsmanship revolves around intricate details and high quality materials, inspired by innately Italian motifs such as Venetian lace, Etruscan patterns and Italian vegetation, insects and animals. The following pieces exemplify the signature styles to look out for at auction and serve as examples of the price range for vintage Buccellati jewelry.

‘Trafato’ or Tylle Creations

Particular to the Buccellati style is a form of textural gold jewelry known as ‘traforato’. This pierced gold technique provides a richly ornate setting for precious stones, such as large cabochons, carved emeralds and rubies or rose-cut diamonds, which are attached with bezels. The result of this process often resembles a honeycomb or a fine piece of fabric, such as lace, linen or tulle, with every part of the surface being engraved. The combination of silver and gold or platinum and gold is another common attribute used by Buccellati to create an even more detailed effect. 

Diamond bracelet, Buccellati

Cuff, Buccellati, £11,875 via Sotheby’s London (December 2014)


Morgana Bracelet 

Inspired by the Italian Renaissance, the Morgana bracelet (or cuff) follows the Buccellati signature of juxtaposing white with yellow gold. Artisans apply the “rigato” engraved finish, which involves carving parallel lines into the metal surface to produce a shiny, silky effect. This finish creates the perfect decorative backdrop to the central openwork rosette, enhancing the radiance of the inlaid stones.


Yellow Gold and Diamond Cuff Bracelet, $28,000 via Hindman (September 2020)

Compacts from the 1920s – 1950s

From a collector’s point of view, compacts created by both Mario Buccellati between the 1920s to the 1950s and Gianmaria Buccellati thereafter, are particularly desirable and often more affordable than their jewelry counterparts. They also retain the same level of craftsmanship when it comes to metalwork and engravings.

Buccellati Earrings

Often found as part of a matching set, earrings sold on their own can be a more affordable alternative to larger jewelry pieces, depending on the size and gemstones. Nevertheless, you will find the same level of craftsmanship and attention to detail that the house is known for. 

The Current Market for Buccellati Jewelry

Buccellati pieces are unique yet timeless and instantly recognizable, which make them a worthwhile investment. Larger, signature pieces, such as the ornate necklaces, jewelry sets and Morgana bracelets seen in this article, fetch the highest prices at auction. Due to the level of workmanship, value of materials used and limited quantities produced, these are arguably the most prized pieces for collectors. More attainable are the smaller, yet still recognizable Buccellati pieces, such as the compact cases and earrings featured above, which can be found around the $5,000 or under price range. 

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